Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hike of the Week (sorta) : Discovery Park Loop +

Yes, we've been hiking every weekend. But I finally actually consulted Jenny's amazing training plan for Mount Kilimanjaro and ... well ... we've got to ramp up our game. Seriously. It's "Phase 2" time... and that means our hiking time starts to climb. 

So on Saturday morning we headed out in a soaking rain to Discovery Park, a former military base now owned by the city. Fun fact: the bluff and surrounding neighborhood is called Magnolia because Lt. George Davidson misidentified the red-barked madrone trees as magnolias during a U.S. Coastal Survey in 1857.

The parking lot at the Visitor Center was surprisingly crowded, given the weather. But we found a spot, bundled up in our waterproofs, and set off to hike the Loop Trail. 

Though we thought we knew most of the park, when we went through it on our Stairway Walk we were surprised to find a whole section of park we'd never seen. Today's walk took us along part of the Loop Trail that we had somehow never seen. 

Wil modeling our pack covers ... which didn't really seem to keep his pack dry...
The trail is reasonably wide, well maintained, and quite smooth -- which makes it a magnet for trail running groups. For the first mile or so we passed dozens of runners, usually in groups, running the loop counterclockwise.

The rain got harder and harder, and we saw fewer and fewer people out in the park. We had considered exploring the buildings of Fort Lawton ... but with the rain we just powered by. Apparently the fort housed Nike Hercules missiles during the Cold War. Neato!

We stopped at a viewpoint ... well, a place where there's usually a view, but today, not so much.

We could put together an album of "shots of us in front of clouded-over views" ...

We soon turned down the South Beach Trail, and realized that we had never been on this trail either -- we have always just gone up the Hidden Valley Trail when leaving the beach. 

Unlike the very woodsy North Beach Trail, this trail offers peek-a-boo views of the water ... and, ahem, on clear days the Olympic Mountains ...

It also has little lookout platforms along the way.

We made our way down the last stretch of the trail...

... and onto a very wet beach.

Somehow we managed to take ZERO pictures of the point, the lighthouse, or the "ghost ships" sailing in the mist north of the park. But here's a lovely picture of the West Point Lighthouse from TripAdvisor...

This photo of Discovery Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We walked around the point -- very, very wet and blustery -- and then headed up the North Beach Trail.

The "soft focus" effect on these shots courtesy the very wet weather... but these little leaves are proof that Spring is beginning to spring!

Getting back on the Loop Trail, we walked the last stretch and were soon back at the car.

This is the sort of loop we can do during the week in the evening once the days get longer. It's too short to be our "weekly hike" now, but it's a good way to get 90-ish minutes of hiking in on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. 

Discovery Park Loop +
4.37 miles
344 feet elevation gain

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